Is America's auto love affair fading?
By Juliet Eilperin
Yes, the U.S. car fleet may have peaked. In 2009 the number of automobiles scrapped in this country--14 million--exceeded the number of new vehicles sold by 4 million.
This reversal--the first time the number of scrapped autos have exceeded new ones since World War II--shrunk the nation's overall vehicle fleet from the all-time high of 250 million to 246 million.
The recession had something to do with this trend, but Brown suggested Wednesday in a telephone press conference that it could continue through "at least" 2020, in part due to increased gas prices, urbanization, annoyance with traffic congestion and concerns about global warming.
He added that the "Cash for Clunkers" program helped contribute to this trend, since all of the roughly 700,000 autos traded in under the program had to be scrapped, but he added it's "certainly not a dominant factor."
While there are now nearly five vehicles for every four U.S. drivers, Washington D.C. could be a sign of the country's overall shift in direction. Only 63 percent of households in the District own a car. The city just revamped its zoning codes to reduce the number of parking spaces required for commercial and residential buildings, so now there must only be one parking space instead of four for every 1,000 square feet of retail space. And parking rates have just jumped from 75 cents to $2 per hour.
Juliet Eilperin| January 6, 2010; 3:00 PM ET Save & Share:
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